Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was in Ketchikan on Monday, continuing her visits to Southeast communities. She sat down with local media to talk about some of the current issues facing the nation.
Health care reform is not a dead issue. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that while she didn’t support the measure her fellow Republicans had been pushing last month, she agrees that change is needed to the current law.
“Where I agree 100 percent with the president and quite honestly, every member of the Republican conference and I think a fair number of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, the status quo is unacceptable with where we are,” she said.
But, she said, the Republican response to Obamacare shouldn’t be a Republican version of it.
Murkowski said what’s needed are initiatives that not only provide the public with more access to health insurance, but that bring down the cost of health care. Because, she said, the cost of care is what’s driving up premiums.
Murkowski said hearings on health care are scheduled soon after the Senate reconvenes next month, and she hopes to have something that both the Senate and House can vote on by the end of September.
That something won’t be an overhaul, though. She wants something to help insurance companies feel more secure about the next couple of years.
“We’re not trying to reform health care by September 30th. That is a mountain too high,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is a very targeted short-term, stabilization effort. I think if we can keep it to just that, yes we can do it.”
Murkowski said that would ease the financial pressure on everyone a little, and buy time for lawmakers to come up with a more long-term solution.
Murkowski was asked about the escalating war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, and the potential threat of a missile strike in Alaska.
She said it’s important for Trump to be firm, but she is concerned about comments from both sides.
“Because words really do matter,” she said.
Murkowski said military assets in Alaska would help protect the state if things get to a critical point.
“We have practiced, we have rehearsed, we have gone through the drills,” she said. “We have, in the ground, the capability to provide for the level of security that we all hope we never have to use.”
Murkowski also addressed the recent deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists gathered to protest the removal of Confederate monuments.
She said it’s incumbent on Americans to condemn acts of hatred, violence and bigotry.
“I think part of it is about being more open about what we expect from one another as Americans,” she said. “Be the bold one who says, ‘No, this is not OK.’”
Murkowski said people need to talk about racism and shine a light on it, rather than ignore it in hopes that it will go away.